It’s fitting Yukon’s VeloNorth Cycling Club kicked off the season with an “Ice Breaker” event: a non-competitive ride down the Alaska Highway on Wednesday with 17 cyclists participating.
The club is making an effort to draw in less-serious and/or less-experienced cyclists, and it wants to be a little more social, too.
“Tonight’s Ice Breaker ride is just a group ride to get people out, have a chance to ride with other people and it’s a bit of a social thing too, so we get to know each other a bit,” said VeloNorth board member John Barryman. “It’s nice, too, because we can get people signed up for the club; when people come out to the first race they can be all signed up and not have to worry about that.”
Of the 19 VeloNorth events scheduled for this season (counting Wednesday’s), club executives have included seven non-competitive group rides, most taking place Saturday mornings.
“We know there are a lot of people out there that ride, but we weren’t seeing a lot of those people come to our events, so we’re trying to do more social group rides in the hopes bringing in those people who enjoy riding but maybe not racing,” said VeloNorth president Scott Kerby, who took over the position from Mike McCann this season. “It’s an attempt for our club to offer a greater diversity of programming to include as many people as possible.”
“We’re trying to make more of an emphasis on inclusion,” said Barryman. “We have a lot of group rides scheduled, and the group rides are more social events. So we have a bunch of rides taking off from Baked Cafe and Beans North on different Saturdays.
“So we go there, have a coffee or whatever, and then go out for a ride together.”
In the club’s competitive events, which include both road races and time trials, cyclists can choose from expert, sport and recreation classes to ride in. To help take the pressure off the recreational competitors, VeloNorth has requested that newspapers not print the results from that class, which the News has consented to.
“Quite a few people have told me about the recreation class, they’d like to do the races, but they’re not interested in seeing their times in the newspaper,” said Barryman. “They just want to go out and have a good time.
“It makes people a little more comfortable and not pressured so much.”
In hopes of attracting more athletes before they exchange their cycling shoes for running shoes as they turn their attention towards the Klondike Trail of ‘98 International Road Relay running race, VeloNorth has also moved up the Tour de Whitehorse event from mid-July to the start of the month.
“It’s closer to the Haines-to-Haines race, so we’re thinking we’ll get more people who are still cycling at that point,” said Barryman. “It seems a lot of people up here switch gears after the Haines race, they start doing more running to prepare for the big Skagway (Klondike Trail of ‘98) race.”
For the first time in years the club has also included a criterium race, which is scheduled for the day before the Tour de Whitehorse, but is not part of the multi-day event.
“There’s four races in four days, so people who want to do that race can do that one too,” said Barryman. “We haven’t done a criterium in several years, so that’s something different.
“Criteriums can be quite exciting.”
A criterium, or “crit” as they are often called in cycling circles, is a type of race steeped in strategy. The winner of the event is not necessarily the first to cross the finish line, but the one who accumulates the most points by lapping the field and/or winning laps.
VeloNorth’s race season starts next Wednesday with the first of two Carcross Cut-Off time trials this season. Much like the Skagway Hill Climb events last year, which take place near the start and end of the season, riders can participate in each and then compare the results to gage their individual improvement.
For more information, visit the club’s website at www.velonorth.ca.
VeloNorth 2010 season schedule
Individual Time Trials
May 5 – Carcross Cut-Off TT; registration 6 p.m.; race start 7 p.m.; meet at cut-off
June 2 – Carcross Cut-Off TT: registration 6 p.m.; race start 7 p.m.; meet at cut-off
May 30 – Skagway Hill Climb; registration 11 a.m.; start 12 noon (Alaska time); meet at road to Dyea
Sept. 5 – Last Gasp TT; South Alaska hwy; registration 10 a.m.; race start 11 a.m., meet at South Access pull-out
May 16 – North Klondike RR; registration 10
a.m.; race start 11 a.m.; meet at Hot Springs cut-off
May 19 – Whitehorse to Yukon River Bridge return; registration 6 p.m.; race start 7 p.m.; meet at top of Robert Service
June 12 – Jakes Corner to Whitehorse; registration 10 a.m.; race start 11 a.m.; meet at Jakes Corner
July 1-4 – Tour de Whitehorse; (criterium July 1, hill climb July 2, TT July 3, RR July 4) route TBD
July 14 – Range Road loop RR; registration 6 p.m.; race start 7 p.m.; meet at bus loop on Range Rd.
July 28 – Porter Creek TT; 6 p.m. registration; race start 7 p.m.; meet at corner of 12th and Alaska Hwy
Aug. 18 – 3 Pillars TT; 6 p.m. registration; race start 7 p.m.; meet at Schwatka Lake Rd/Robert Service Road
May 8 – Group ride, registration 10 a.m.; departure 10:30; meet at Baked Cafe; Robert Service Ext. loop
May 15 – Group ride, registration 10 a.m.; departure 10:30; meet at Baked Cafe; Carcross Cut-off return
May 22 – Group ride, registration 10 a.m.; departure 10:30; meet at Baked Cafe; Bean North return
May 29 – Group ride, registration 10 a.m.; departure 10:30; meet at Midnight Sun Cafe; North Klondike Hwy return
June 5 – Group ride, registration 10 a.m.; departure 10:30; meet at Midnight Sun Cafe; Robert Service/Hamilton loop
June 12 – Group ride, registration 10 a.m.; departure 10:30; meet at Midnight Sun Cafe; Carcross Cut-off return
June 16 – Relaxing pre-Haines group ride; meet 7 p.m.; Robert Service pull-out
Contact Tom Patrick at